Even after showing a poll which shows that the majority of the opposition to the President is comprised of Southern, white, older men and white Evangelicals, and after playing some of the over the top attacks on President Obama by the likes of Zell Miller and Rush Limbaugh, Matthews still chooses to frame the first part of his panel debate this way.
Matthews: Did the Sotomayor nomination, the combinization of all those discussions about the wise Latina woman and how she'd be a Justice, did the discussion by the President where he talked about the sergeant in Cambridge acting stupidly, did he open the door to this sort of ethnic attack on him? An attack on his very legitimacy?
What astounded me about the panel's response is not one of them bothered to mention that maybe it is their job to beat back at this nonsense. While acknowledging the right wing lunacy, they all seemed to feign helplessness with what to do about it. None of them stated clearly that the Sotomayor nomination or the Gates dust up nonsense was not a legitimate reason for the right wing to be going ballistic at these town halls, and with the over the top racial attacks on President Obama.
John Heilemann is dead wrong. The President did not give them a "permission slip" to act this way, and it is in no way "unintentional" that they wanted to open the door to racial attacks. They were already looking for any excuse to do it and whether it was Sotomayor or Gates or whatever, this would have happened sooner or later because the haters simply will never accept that a black man was elected President in the United States.
This is the Sarah Palin nut jobs gone wild, morphed into the tea baggers movement, and it is about hate, pure and simple. End of story. And unfortunately I don't think these people are going to stop until someone ends up dead, and even that may not stop them.
Heilemann: Well I think the attack on the legitimacy is really the point. And there's a concerted effort to try to legitimize Barack Obama. He's a communist. He's a socialist. He's Hitler now. He's trying to impose euthanasia on old people. And he's a racist, right? And I think your point Chris is spot on in this sense. I think it's unintentional, but I think it's true that what the people who are trying to de-legitimize him are trying to do is they want to open the door to this kind of conversation. They want to have a race fated conversation, and between Sotomayor and the Skip Gates controversy...
Matthews: Did he open the door?
Heilemann: Obama gave them a permission slip to say that he introduced the question first and now they can, now they can go crazy and make all these kind of wild charges because they claim that he put race on the table and they're now just following his lead.
Matthews: Okay, you're the editor of Time Magazine. Edit this conversation. Is this the kind of attack a white American President would have to endure? The kind of attack he's getting.
Stengel: Uh, probably not, but you know, I'm going to blame it on technology. I don't mean to evade the issue but the fact is, the fringe has come to the front because of You Tube, because of the Internet, things that we wouldn't have known about before, people acting up at rallies. These kind of strange, bizarre pictures of Obama are coming to the front. We can all see it. This kind of modern Heisenberg uncertainty principle, where the things, the fact of observing something changes the nature of the thing observed. It's bringing it to the fore in a way that we've never had before. I don't know what to do with it. I don't know if that, but I don't think it necessarily means that it didn't exist before.
Parker: I agree with Rick. I think that's a really important point. That everything gets exaggerated. I do think though, that it is worse than it would have been with anybody else. I do think it's getting worse. But, every time somebody creates some funky little picture where they for example put the bone through President Obama's nose, and that thing gets distributed all over the Internet, millions see it, and you know, all these things then take on a life of their own and they become bigger than they really are. None the less, I think there's a real, a real um, split in this country.
Matthews: Okay, let's go back to more down home communications systems. The local gas station in the South. When people sit around talking about this....
Parker: Right, that's what we do in the South...
Matthews: Are they in that iconic setting talking about this guy in a rougher way, a more ethnic, racial way than they were a while ago?
Parker: Okay, iconic setting.
Matthews: You're down there.
Parker: Yeah, I am down there, and I've, you know, I have to tell you, it's important for everybody to understand that the South is not exclusively racist. And there are lots of people who, you know, Obama tipped the South as well, he's popular, and most of those, certainly the circles I travel, but there are, in this sort of iconic gas station that you envisioned, there are certainly, there is certainly an element of people who do not like Barack Obama because he is black. And there is still a certain percentage of people who still use the N-word if they feel comfortable and they think that you're one of them. I mean this is this, but I don't think it's exclusive to the South. Again, that's a stereotype we enjoy.
Matthews: But Trish, I want to talk about you living up in New York, in that world you live in, that high level world up there, the high buildings up there. I've looked at those sum numbers that show there's absolutely none of this up there in terms of was he born abroad. Nobody believes that.
Regan: Right, well he's still very popular up there. I think people in some areas of the country, really the honeymoon has essentially worn off, and a lot of that comes back to the fundamentals of this economy as they look around and are dealing with a 9.4% unemployment rate, as they're out of work, or maybe they're worried about losing their jobs. All of a sudden now they're giving more substance, more credence to the momentum that's building on line, and these bloggers that are coming out of the woodwork. So there's some resentment there like, people wondering well, why aren't things better yet. I want things to be better now. And they're blaming him.